First Paulo Costa and now Yoel Romero.
In what could be a guaranteed barnburner, the middleweight pair was targeted by the promotion to headline its UFC on ESPN 3 event this month in, Florida.
Costa is currently on a tear, winning four consecutive fights in as many outings in his young career, while the 41-year old was coming off a close defeat to Robert Whittaker last June.
The UFC first booked them in November for the UFC 230, but the contest did not materialise as the Cuban sensation withdrew from the fight due to injuries from his previous bout.
They were slated to meet at UFC on ESPN+ 1, but this time it was the young Costa who was ruled ineligible to fight because of injury.
Third time could be the charm for the middleweight rivals. However, the fight was once again cancelled after the Brazilian reportedly failed a drug test.
Jacare Souza stepped in as a worthy replacement for Costa, setting up a rematch between the old foes.
Jacare Souza says if he beats Yoel Romero and does not get a #UFC title shot after, he would consider walking away from the sport. #HelwaniShow #MMA #UFC #MartialArts #UFConESPN #combatsports pic.twitter.com/e73euH7bDM
— Brawl in the Cage (@BrawlintheCage) March 26, 2019
Costa Out, Souza In
Last month, Romero told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that his fight with Costa had been cancelled. During the interview, he shared that “Borrachinha” was popped by the anti-doping organisation, USADA, making him ineligible to compete.
“The problem is, what I hear is that Paulo Costa had a positive test for USADA. That’s what happened. That’s what we hear.”
“UFC called my manager and told us Paulo Costa is out because he’s positive. Now we need to see another opponent. They say Jacare Souza, and I say okay, I will fight him.”
As the aftermath of Costa’s withdrawal, Romero would then meet Souza in a re-run of their classic showdown three years ago.
Romero is looking to duplicate his win while “Jacare” is seeking to exact revenge on his former tormentor and establish his first winning streak since his loss to Kelvin Gastelum.
Romero Withdrew Due To Illness
The upcoming UFC event suffered another big blow as the Brazilian media outlet, Ag Fight, has reported that Romero will not also see actions.
According to the report, the Cuban fighter has pulled out of the main event clash with Souza after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
The 41-year old Romero is currently holding a 9-2 win-loss record at UFC. He last saw actions in the Octagon back in June last year, where he starred in an instant classic with current champion Robert Whittaker – a title fight dubbed as one of the best of all-time.
It is not yet confirmed whether Souza will remain on the April 27 fight card.
Who do you think should replace Romero?
— Sub-Zero MMA (@SubZeroMMA) April 4, 2019
UFC on ESPN 3 Updated Line Up (via Fightful) – April 27, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
TBA vs. Ronaldo Souza (26-6, 1NC)
John Lineker (31-8) vs. Cory Sandhagen (9-1)
Glover Teixeira (28-7) vs. Ion Cutelaba (14-2, 1NC)
Andrei Arlovski (27-18, 1NC) vs. Augusto Sakai (12-1-1)
Jessica Penne (12-5) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-4)
Court McGee (19-7) vs. Dhiego Lima (13-7)
Jim Miller (29-13, 1NC) vs. Jason Gonzalez (11-4)
Carla Esparza (13-6) vs. Livia Renata Souza (13-1)
Greg Hardy (3-1) vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov (8-2)
Alex Oliveira (19-6-1, 2NC) vs. Mike Perry (12-4)
Roosevelt Roberts (7-0) vs. Thomas Gifford (14-7, 2NC)
Takashi Sato (14-2) vs. Ben Saunders (22-11-2)
Gilbert Burns (14-3) vs. Eric Wisely (31-9-1)
(Featured Image Source: YouTube/MMA Weekly and MMA Fighting)